Calgary

Union for public servants files grievance against Alberta government as pay issues persist

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees has filed a policy grievance over pay issues affecting public servants in the province.

A new payroll management system was implemented in December

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees has filed a grievance against the Alberta government after public servants experienced pay problems for weeks. (Juris Graney/CBC)

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees has filed a policy grievance over pay issues affecting public servants in the province. 

A new payroll management system was implemented in December as part of the transition onto a suite of programs called 1GX. 

Workers began experiencing pay problems shortly afterwards, with employees who worked overtime, picked up extra shifts, earned premium pay or didn't work typical hours reporting missing pay. Some workers reported missing up to 40 per cent of their owed pay. 

It's been six weeks since the issues started, and after weeks of trying to resolve the issues the union says it took the legal step of a policy grievance on Friday. 

A policy grievance alleges that the actions or inaction of management is a violation of the policy agreement that could affect all employees covered by that particular agreement. 

"What we're asking for is that the employees receive their money, benefits and other entitlements that they're owed, plus interest. We feel that it's necessary to do that so that they can fix the problems before it reaches Phoenix-like proportions," Susan Slade, a vice-president with the union, said. 

Phoenix is a problem-plagued federal pay system that led to thousands of public servants being underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all. 

Slade says improper training and implementation of the new 1GX programs has led to many of these payment issues, and that the union has heard of payroll employees breaking down in tears at their desks from the stress of managing the problems. 

"There's no reason why this should have been rolled out when it wasn't ready."

Service Alberta says 595 reports have been filed by individuals with missing pay and that a fix is underway. 

"All issues are being actively addressed. Some have already been resolved, and we have solutions in place to fix all of them for upcoming pay periods," Graeme McElheran, a spokesperson with the department, said in an email to CBC News. 

"With a change of this scope and scale — which was necessary due to outdated and expiring software — some issues were to be expected. To limit these issues, we deployed the system to pilot ministries first, had extensive mandatory training and have added supports available to employees as they learn the new system."

The payroll system is run through Accenture Enterprise Services for Government, and the software provided by SAP and SuccessFactors, he said.

Separate cheques are being offered to affected employees in the meantime. 

A handful of public servants have also launched a website to collect stories from their colleagues and are considering launching group legal action if the problems aren't fixed soon. 

"If this is not resolved soon, an option could be a class-action lawsuit," their site reads.

They say employees across corrections, social services, and fish and wildlife have all experienced incorrect pay.

1GX was brought in at the end of 2020 at a cost of $79.6 million in the last fiscal year, according to Service Alberta documents. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elise von Scheel is a reporter and producer with the CBC's Parliamentary Bureau, currently working in Calgary. You can get in touch with her at elise.von.scheel@cbc.ca.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?

now